J.D. Cleveland (1857 – )


The family to which this eminent physician belongs has double charms for consideration, both as pioneers and patriots. Its first representatives figured conspicuously in the formative period of Iowa, while later descendants bore themselves bravely in behalf of the Union during the crucial era of the Civil war. Others have done well their part in various employments and in the discharge of diverse duties, such as fall to busy men in a great and growing country. It is fitting therefore that a volume devoted to the representative men of Iowa should contain some particulars of so interesting a family connection, and no apology is necessary for sketching at some length the lives of Dr. Cleveland and his immediate ancestors.

When Zedekiah Cleveland reached Iowa in 1835 tne prospect was not so pleasing as it afterward became. It was at the time practically a wild and unredeemed territory. There were no railroads as yet, the principal avenues of communication being the rivers, and population was still very sparse and widely scattered. Only in a few places had the rich prairie sod of this region been broken by the plow, and little promise was given then of the mammoth corn crops which have astonished the people of the present generation. Zedekiah Cleveland was still little more than a boy when he reached Iowa, his birth having occurred in Washington county, New York, in 1811, but he was an adventurous spirit and had already seen much of life both on land and sea. He reached the west about the time of the Black Hawk purchase and became a pioneer farmer as well as one of the first hotel men in that locality. Later he moved to Van Buren and from there to Davis county, where he spent the remainder of his days. It is difficult to overestimate the value of the services rendered to those young western territories in their incipiency by such men as Zedekiah Cleveland. It is easy enough to travel the road after it is graded or to cross the river after it is bridged, but the pioneer does his best work before there are either roads or bridges. Each one, too, became a nucleus, a rallying point around which by degrees a settlement was formed from which gradually grew a county, eventually to become an integral part of a great state. We hear of this work collectively on account of its lasting results, but not much individually, as the separate units disappear in the general amalgamation. Zedekiah Cleveland in early life chose for his bride Anna Ware, a native of Orange county, Indiana, who shared all the hardships of his earlier struggles and passed away at the old home in Davis county when about fifty-six years old. The venerable husband survived his faithful companion some years, and finally closed his eyes on the world and its contentions in 1882, when approaching the seventy-second year of his age.

J. D. Cleveland, son of this worthy pioneer, was born in Lee county, Iowa, November 9, 1857, and remained at home until the twenty-first year of his age. He then entered the normal school at Bloomfield and from there went to the Northwestern Medical College at St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was graudated in the class of 1892. His first practice after receiving his degree was at Clearmont, Missouri, but after remaining there a while he returned to his native state. Dr. Cleveland located for short periods at different places in Iowa, growing steadily in reputation all the time, until finally he reached Iconium, where he has been a fixture since 1900. He is quite popular over the territory covered by his professional work and is an excellent example of the self-made man, who rises without extraneous aids until, by slow degrees and steady progress, he reaches that condition of stability which is the culminating ambition of every aspiring citizen. In politics the Doctor is Democratic and had the pleasure of casting his first presidential vote for Grover Cleveland. Nevertheless he is rather independent in his political views and does not hesitate to criticise the acts or policies of his party when they seem to him wrong. Dr. Cleveland is justly proud of his pioneer parents and also of his two brothers, who made honorable records on the right side during the great war for the time. One of these, E. Aaron Cleveland, was a member of the Sixth Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry, while his brother, Cyrus M., belonged to the Forty-sixth Regiment.

In 1888, while still in college, Dr. Cleveland was married to Miss Mally Fraley, by whom he had two children, but only one of these, a son, is now living. In 1895 Dr. Cleveland took a second wife in the person of Miss Belle Sponner, a popular young lady of Centerville, by whom he has an only daughter, having lost one child by death. The family are communicants of the Methodist church, in which Mrs. Cleveland is a zealous worker, and they enjoy high standing in the best circles of society. Dr. Cleveland is a member of the County Medical Society and is also connected with the Modern Woodmen of America. Both personally and professionally he is much esteemed at Iconium as well as at other places in the state where he has acquaintances.”

Source:  Biographical and Genealogical History of Appanoose and Monroe Counties, Iowa, by S. Thompson Lewis, The Lewis Publishing Co., New York and Chicago, 1903, pages 600-2

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